In an effort to boost transparency for investors, the Canadian Public Accountability Board is looking at expanding the public disclosure of its enforcement efforts with audit firms.
The board issued a consultation paper and released a survey to collect feedback on potential changes to the public disclosure it provides about its regulatory assessments, including the enforcement actions it takes.
While the regulator has the authority to publicly disclose the results of its compliance reviews and enforcement actions (including any restrictions or sanctions imposed on a firm), so far it hasn’t publicly disclosed any of its enforcement actions.
Now it’s looking to change that approach.
The board said in its paper that it intends to exercise its discretion and “disclose more information when enforcement actions are imposed on a firm with a focus on the most significant breaches of professional standards.”
To that end, it’s “seeking input on the nature and breadth of such disclosure, how this information could impact the investing public and any unintended consequences.”
For instance, the paper noted that the prospect of public disclosure could increase the frequency with which firms request reviews of the board’s findings, delaying enforcement and increasing costs.
According to the consultation paper, the move to increase disclosure reflects a growing demand from investors, and from some issuers’ audit committees, along with higher public expectations about access to information from regulators.
Additionally, it said that “continued high rates of inspection findings among some participating audit firms raises a consideration of whether additional disclosures will assist in protecting the investing public.”
The consultation will run until Sept. 30.
If the accountability board decides to propose specific changes, “additional discussion and approvals will likely be necessary,” it noted.
“CPAB last broadened its disclosures framework in 2014; given changing audit and regulatory practices and stakeholder expectations, it is appropriate to consider evolving our approach at this time,” said Canadian Public Accountability Board CEO Carol Paradine in a release.
“We are specifically interested in the investing public’s feedback on our disclosure principles, what and how we communicate to audit committees and what we share publicly about our regulatory assessment results and enforcement actions,” she said.